Breaking a Sweat on a Budget

September 26, 2011 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

By Rhiannon D’Angelo

When did getting in shape in Boston get so expensive? With gym memberships in the city ranging anywhere from $19 to $150+, our wallets are certainly feeling the burn. Gyms at the lower price points keep the rates low by offering the bare minimum – four walls, a few dumbbells and a long line of treadmills.  No yoga, no Pilates, no dance, no pool, no spin, nothing.  Like most things in life, when it comes to a gym in Boston, it seems you get what you pay for.

running outside thinkstock Breaking a Sweat on a Budget

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Sure, activities like running may be easy on the wallet, but to the average human a five-mile run before (or after) a day at the office does not seem like exercise dreams are made of.  Don’t get me wrong – there is a special place in heaven for all you 5 a.m. runners, but some of us need a little more distraction than pavement and our own panting.

So how do we keep our workout interesting and affordable?  I sought to find the best (and worst) ways to get a diverse workout on a budget here in Boston. Below, my findings:

Beware of the “Free Week”

My keychain is a graveyard of expired gym memberships. So, as an experienced alumnus of many of Boston’s workout establishments, I feel I can tell you with certainty that there is no such thing as a free trial week. Sure, certain gyms may offer a free week, but beware, these deals are not always what they seem. Let’s put it this way, free weeks at a gym are about as free as the “free vacation” you “win” after going to look at a timeshare. When you show up to the gym to use your “free week,” expect to be whisked into the office of a 23-year-old living solely on commission before you even touch a dumbbell. Said individual will not let you free from his four temporary walls until you sign onto a two-year contract. If you somehow manage to escape the hard sell on the first day of your “free week” you will most certainly endure six more days of the above tactic with added phone calls and emails.

Stay in the Know

Free classes are being offered all over the city every day. Granted, you may have to lay your mat down in the middle of the Esplanade, but having a view of the skyline through your downward dog isn’t so bad, right? How do you find these free sessions? Simple: Read the newspaper; sign up for email newsletters, and “like” gyms and studios on Facebook. You’ll be surprised to learn how many fat burning events are going on free of charge.

Sweat Savvy

Buywithme, Groupon, Living Social, Gilt City and Rue La La are just a few of the local sites offering daily online deals at fitness facilities around town.    From personal training, to boot camp to ballet you can sweat savvy with the deals on these sites.

Students = Savings

Don’t leave home without your student ID. If you’re enrolled in college classes, you’re often entitled to a discount. Seems gyms take pity on your $50,000 a year investment. Though they may not announce it when you walk in the door, you’ll never know unless you ask!

Talk to Your Teacher

When your favorite fitness instructor isn’t teaching classes at the chichi gym downtown, chances are they may be moonlighting elsewhere.   The bio list of fitness instructors at the Boston Center for Adult Education reads like a who’s who of fitness gods in Boston and tuition rates are extremely affordable.  Check out the adult education center in your neighborhood to see what’s offered.

Join the Club

Instead of keeping your socializing and exercising separate, why not combine and save?  The Revolutionary Running Club in Charlestown starts and ends weekly runs at Ironsides Bar & Grill.  Look into the many basketball, kickball and softball leagues around the Hub, many of these leagues have relationships with local watering holes and offer post-game brews at a discount.

How do you stay in shape for less? Let us know in the comments!

When not 9-to-5-ing it, Bostonian Rhiannon D’Angelo is sharing her wry thoughts on pop-culture, fashion and travel on her popular blog Down The Rabbit Hole: A Bostonian’s Musings on Fashion and Culture.